Lessons of a Showman

Expectations can be hard to live up to.

I know I’m not the only person who’s ever had this thought; expectations of career, expectations of love, expectations of yourself. There are all kinds. These are the thoughts that can haunt you, plague you, and turn your insides out if you let them.

I’ve recently had the pleasure of watching The Greatest Showman, starring Hugh Jackman, Zac Efron, and Zendaya and I’ve had a hard time getting it out of my head. The music is catchy, the visuals are incredible and the choreography is mind-blowing. After everything is said and done though, it’s the story (despite its historical inaccuracies) that has managed to stick with me the most (MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD).

P.T Barnum, whose life this movie is loosely based on, is known, among many other things, for having said that “the noblest art is that of making others happy.” I believe that there’s a measure of truth in that. I’ve often found myself geared towards ensuring that others are having a good time, making sure they have the support they need, or doing what it takes to make them smile. For some reason, it gives me a buzz or a rush – a warm fuzzy feeling – that compares to no other. There’s a danger though, which Barnum also discovers near the tail end of the movie; in his pursuit of making others happy and trying to gain acceptance, he forgot to make sure that he was truly happy. Even more so because trying to please everyone is damn near impossible. It can be a hard balancing act giving of yourself without losing who you are. I know.

My outlook has changed drastically over the last few years. I’m still the kind of person that would give you the shirt off of my back, crack a joke to make you smile, give you a place to crash, or give you advice if you were in need. This is a large part of who I am and who I want to be. Your happiness means the world to me… but not at the expense of mine. Too harsh? Maybe… I don’t know. I believe that it’s difficult trying to take care of others if you can’t learn to take care of yourself (whatever that means to you). There are places I want to go and things I want to do; I have dreams too. Some people may be turned off by this approach, calling me selfish or self-centered, and I completely understand if that’s what you think of me. I won’t think any less of you for it. But to reference another quote from the movie, “you don’t need everyone to love you, just a few good people!”

Showman highlights people from different walks of life and being outside of the norm. We experience the magic of what can happen when people aim to be themselves and defy the expectations that we have set upon us or the ones we have set for ourselves. There is bound to be a time when the weight of those expectations will become overwhelming; they can crush you. Let go. “No one ever made a difference by being like everybody else.”

Now you see me for who I am.

My advice: be yourself, be kind, and live the life you want – not the one expected of you. Even better if you have someone in your life that understands that. Listen to me or don’t; that’s entirely up to you. But…

“This is me!”

I hope you can accept that.

Photo Credit: xXNekochanX

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